Trial Begins in Shooting of Lifelong Friend 

On March 14, a jury assigned to a murder case heard opening statements from both parties regarding the murder of a father, who was also the defendant’s lifelong friend. 

Jean Kearney, 35, is charged in connection to the murder of Dontra Harris, 33, and the assault of a law enforcement officer. Kearney has seven charges against him, including first-degree murder while armed, assault on a police officer while armed, and two counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, among other charges. 

Harris was murdered on April 4, 2021, on the 1800 block of 24th Street, NE. The defendant then assaulted an officer on May 13, 2021, as a group of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers were trying to serve a search warrant at his residence. 

The prosecution explained, in their opening statement, the timeline of the incidents that led to the shooting and the incident on May 13, 2021. 

According to the prosecutor, the defendant had been following the victim on the day of the incident after an argument. In the evening, Kearney allegedly waited for Harris at the parking lot of his apartment complex and ambushed him when he returned from visiting his father. 

Prosecutors explained that the victim and the defendant used to have a very close friendship since childhood, explaining that the defendant even called Harris’ dad “pops”. 

The prosecutor told the jury that after their arguments concluded, the jury would realize the only just verdict for this case would be a guilty verdict. 

On the other hand, defense attorney Michael Madden told the jury “Jean Paul Kearny is not guilty,” stating that the prosecution has no strong and clear evidence to prove that his client had been the perpetrator for any of the incidents.The prosecution’s evidence was circumstantial, at best, Madden said.

He went on to argue that during the May 13, 2021, alleged assault on law enforcement, Kearney believed that the people at his door were the victim’s family trying to get revenge for his alleged involvement in the killing of Harris. He feared something would happen if he did not protect himself, Madden said.  

Madden asked the jury to consider the only just verdict for this trial – a not guilty verdict.

To begin arguments, the prosecution called various witnesses to the stand. Among them, Harris’ mom. 

She told the court that Harris’ favorite role was being a father, and he loved his children unconditionally. She explained that the last time she saw him was actually the day of the shooting.

Trial is slated to resume March 15.

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